Friday, 28 July 2023

Am I Awake?

If you have followed along with my page-by-page illustrations of Finnegans Wake by reading it yourself, you might by now wonder if there's any sense to be found in it at all. Because just as you are beginning to grasp something of its meaning, you discover that it might mean something entirely different. But that's okay! Finnegans Wake is not like any other book. You don't have to read it from the beginning (it doesn't even start there) and you will certainly never find its ending. Let me suggest a way to approach it. Have you ever had a long dream, where situations and people changed and evolved? For example, you are driving in a car with your friend, who suddenly becomes a donkey and the car a boat. Well, hold that thought. Now imagine you are having that dream, but you are asleep on a train and people are chatting all around you. Every now and then you wake a little and hear parts of sentences and then drift off again. That is what this book is like for me. But it's not a madcap series of events and crazy characters. It is far cleverer than that. It is full of layers of meanings, smart-arsed puns, irreverent commentary, and so much history. The thing about Finnegans Wake is that no one person holds the key to its meaning. Everyone can get something from it or has something to add to its meaning. You will find references to advertisements, newspaper articles, historical events, shows at the Gaiety Theatre, old Irish songs, mythology, and legends..., The list is endless. I hope you continue to accompany me on this page-by-page exploration of this great book. I can't promise you a concise summary of its chapters or an in-depth analysis of its themes, but I can promise you lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake. And hopefully, you can add to the conversation with your own observations and stories that will be triggered along the way.

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